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Fishing in Southwest Colorado From the headwaters and pristine high mountain lakes surrounding Durango, to the desert-canyon rivers and reservoirs, there are few fishing areas that rival the majestic beauty, diversity, and solitude that can be found here in the southwestern part of Colorado.  Below is a list of some of the most popular fishing waters found around this region. Rivers & Streams: Lakes & Reservoirs:  Animas River (lower) Navajo Reservoir  Dolores River (below Mcphee) Vallecito Reservoir  San Juan River Lemon Reservoir Hermosa Creek McPhee Reservoir For more information on fishing waters, directions, maps, and specific fishing regulations please visit our Rivers & Lakes Maps section. This offers interactive maps, current river flow data, and an informational page about each river or lake destination. Types of fishing: Angling techniques have a long rich history with a story of continuing advancements, from the invention of the reel to the ever-improving tackle, gear, and methods.  Below, these techniques have been broken down into 4 of the most popular fishing types practiced for this region of Colorado: 1. Fly fishing where fish are caught on an artificial fly.  Many different species can be caught with this kind of fishing but most freshwater fly fishing is for members of the salmon family including different species of trout and salmon. 2. Lure fishing where predatory fish species are pursued by casting and retrieving artificial baits or lures.  Pike, bass, and trout are commonly fished in this manner around Durango in calmer waters, lakes and reservoirs. 3. Bait fishing where fish are caught on natural or processed baits.  Salmon eggs, grasshoppers, and worms are prime examples of natural baits used.  Power bait, cheese, and bread are just a few examples of processed baits.  This type of fishing is often done to attract a wide variety of fishes such as catfish, trout, sunfish and even carp around the southwestern part of Colorado. 4. Ice fishing where fish are caught in the cold winter months through a hole in the ice on a frozen body of water.  Ice fishing has grown more popular in the last decade, here in Colorado.  The state hatcheries have started stocking more sports fish in the late fall.  Portable fishing shelters, electronic fish locators, ice drills, and the ever increasing bait types have all played roles in the growing popularity of ice fishing (CDOW, 2012).  Trout and perch are among the most popular species caught in the winter months. License & Regulations: In the state of Colorado it is required to have a fishing license when fishing in public waters.  Annual licenses are valid from April 1 through to March 31.  For costs and more information about fishing regulations in Colorado click here, to apply for a license click here. Gold Medal Waters: The Colorado Wildlife Commission designates streams that are considered to provide excellent angling opportunities for big trout “Gold Medal Water.”  This water designation represents the highest quality of aquatic habitat for trout in Colorado.  Often there will be special regulations to ensure the fishing quality on these stream sections.  The Gold Medal status is given out sparingly.  In Colorado there are over 9,000 miles of trout streams and out of that only 167.8 miles are currently classified as Gold Medal streams (CRN, 2008).  The Animas River Animas River Flow Data. , which runs through the heart of Durango has a stretch of gold medal water stream from merging of Lightner Creek to the Purple Cliffs at the Rivera Crossing Bridge. Fish Species: Southwestern Colorado is primarily known for its trout fishing.  Anglers come from all parts of the country to land wild trout in the scenic Rocky Mountains.  Trout species found around this area are dominated by the rainbow trout in both rivers and lakes.  The Animas River is well known for its abundance of large brown trout.  Brook trout and cutthroat trout are more common in the cool clear high mountain streams such as in Hermosa Creek.  Rainbows, salmon, pike, bass, sunfish, perch, and catfish are all common in the warmer waters.  For more details on specific species of fish found around Durango and identification information please visit the fish species page of the website. Sport Fishes around Durango, Colorado References Baird, R. (2006). Fishing Colorado. (2nd ed.). Helena, Montana: Morris Book Publishing. CDOW. (2012, June 12). Ice fishing. Retrieved from http://wildlife.state.co.us/fishing/reports/Pages/IceFishing.aspx CRN. (2008). Colorado's gold medal trout waters. Retrieved from http://www.bigtrout.com/goldmedal.html Kindersley, R. (1994). The encyclopedia of fishing. New York, NY: Dorling Kindersley. Martin, C., Knopick, T., & Flick, J. (1997). Fly fishing southern colorado. Boulder, CO: Pruett Publishing Company.
The Cutthroat Trout, the only species of trout native to these waters and is the state fish. The Cutthroat Trout, the only species of trout native to these waters and is the state fish. Rainbow Trout - one of the most common species of trout to catch in this area. Rainbow Trout - one of the most common species of trout to catch in this area. Brown Trout - the Animas River is well know for the amount of large browns that are caught in it. Brown Trout - the Animas River is well know for the amount of large browns that are caught in it. Brook Trout - often found in high mountain streams. Brook Trout - often found in high mountain streams. Smallmouth Bass - predator of warmer waters, the mouth does NOT go past the eyes. Smallmouth Bass - predator of warmer waters, the mouth does NOT go past the eyes. Largemouth Bass - this warm water predator has a mouth that does extent past the eyes. Largemouth Bass - this warm water predator has a mouth that does extent past the eyes. Bluegill - common in warmer waters, this is a popular panfish often caught on live bait. Bluegill - common in warmer waters, this is a popular panfish often caught on live bait.
Rainbow Trout
Cutthroat Trout
Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
Black Crappie - common in warmer waters, reaching up to 14 inches in length, and are considered a great fish for eating. Black Crappie - common in warmer waters, reaching up to 14 inches in length, and are considered a great fish for eating.
Bluegill
Black Crappie
Channel Catfish - found in warm slower waters and great for eating. Channel Catfish - found in warm slower waters and great for eating.
Channel Catfish
Kokanee
Kokanee - this land-locked salmon is a male showing spawing colors. Kokanee - this land-locked salmon is a male showing spawing colors. Northern Pike - this top predator is very fun to fish for and puts up a great fight! Northern Pike - this top predator is very fun to fish for and puts up a great fight!
Northern Pike
Yellow Perch - the size is small but the meat is great and a very popular ice fishing species. Yellow Perch - the size is small but the meat is great and a very popular ice fishing species.
Yellow Perch
Animas River Flow Data. Animas River Flow Data.
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